Dr Martyn Percy, the former Dean of Christ Church, has announced he is to leave the Church of England. This will be a cause of sadness and regret to many who have appreciated Martyn’s ministry across the years through his writing and speaking and particularly his ministry as Principal of Ripon College Cuddesdon and as Dean of Christ Church. Martyn’s ministry is wider and deeper than the difficult experiences of recent years. He has impacted many for good across the Diocese of Oxford, Oxfordshire and the University.
We fully acknowledge the complexity and pain of the situation for Martyn, and also for others involved. We are deeply saddened by his decision and also by the inaccurate and unevidenced claims he makes in his media interviews. We need to offer some response to the various claims for the sake of all those involved. This page contains a summary of some of the information given to the press in recent days.
The Bishop of Oxford and many others have gone to considerable lengths to care for Martyn in his four year dispute with Christ Church and to ensure fair treatment of all involved. This has included the offer of conversations about future ministry and a way of marking his departure. Much of what has happened has been inaccurately played out by supporters of Martyn in the media and online. Many people have been left damaged and hurt by their campaigns.
- The woman who raised a complaint of sexual harassment by Martyn has been identified online and lied about to journalists.
- In December, trustees of the diocese had to respond to spurious safeguarding allegations made by Martyn.
- Further damaging accusations against third parties have been widely circulated without their knowledge to senior figures in the Church.
- The diocese has expended considerable time and resources investigating claims of systemic safeguarding failure in the church, again made by Martyn, shown to be unfounded.
- Our appeal for privacy and restraint during a sensitive investigation was an appropriate step for the protection of both the complainant and the respondent.
Martyn’s cri de cœur will anger many readers, as it simply does not reflect the church that they know and love. It is time for an objective and independent account of what has happened at Christ Church during the past two years. Following a decision by Bishop’s Council some months ago, we have jointly commissioned with the Archbishops’ Council an independent review to take place this year, to be led by the Church of England Independent Safeguarding Board. We welcome the scrutiny the review will bring and are ready and willing to acknowledge any failings. Our hope is that Martyn will too and, after a time away from ministry, he might reconsider his decision to leave the Church of England.
- Christ Church is a complex institution and, uniquely in the Church of England, the Dean of the Cathedral is also Head of an Oxford College.
- The terms of service of the Dean and the residentiary canons of the Cathedral are set out in the Statutes of Christ Church. The post of Dean is indivisible; the different aspects of the Dean’s duties cannot be separated. A governance review, led by Christ Church is currently underway.
- The allegation made against the Dean was unrelated to previous disputes at the college, and the individual brought her complaint to the Church under the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM).
Previous diocesan statements
- February 2022 – Martyn Percy agrees to step down as Dean of Christ Church
- June 2021 – Decision by the President of Tribunals
- November 2020 / March 2021 – Dean agrees to step back following safeguarding complaint / statement following claims made on social media
- September 2020 – NST safeguarding investigation concluded, Dean exonerated